Best Jon Herington Steely Dan-related guitar performances: Steely Dan Sunday

The list of past guitar players who have served their skills on Steely Dan recordings is most impressive: Jeff Baxter, Denny Dias, Rick Derringer, Dean Parks, Steve Khan are a few, as well as Walter Becker himself. But Jon Herington has been associated with Steely Dan continuously for far longer than anyone else, first contributing some overdubs toward the end of the Two Against Nature (2000) recording sessions and touring with the band as the lead guitarist ever since. He’s also appeared on Everything Must Go and Donald Fagen’s Morph The Cat and Sunken Condos solo albums, as well as gigging alongside Fagen, Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald whenever the Dukes of September hit the concert circuit.

If you have had a chance to catch a Steely Dan or Dukes show, you know just how good Herington is; he excels at playing rock, jazz and blues licks with equal proficiency, the rare all-purpose guitarist who can handle anything Becker and Fagen’s material throws at him and he puts his own mark on it in the process. He’s a road-ready Larry Carlton.

That’s why for this segemnt of Steely Dan Sunday, we’re saluting Jon Herington’s key contributions to the 21st century Dan with a List of Five, and who better to curate this list than Steely Dan and Jon Herington authority Preston Frazier?


5. Slinky Thing (from Sunken Condos): “Slinky Thing” is a funky little ditty from Fagen’s most recent album . The acoustic slap bass and Fagen’s lyrics make the song a gem but Jon Jon Herington’s overdriven distorted guitar make it a classic.

4. Who’s That Lady (from Dukes of September Live from Lincoln Center): Sure, there are a truckload of excellent Herington solos on this 2014 DVD release. Some may pick his note perfect version of Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne,” but “Who’s That Lady” finds smoke coming from the fret board of Jon Herington’s Gibson SG. The Isley Brothers would be proud.

3. Black Friday (featuring Ollabelle with Donald Fagen, single release): This iTunes single from 2013 is almost a folk reading of the Steely Dan classic until Herington steps up with his raw bluesy tone. Herington holds back on the guitar leads in the beginning then lets loose with a great interpretation of Walter Becker’s classic solo. Poor Ollabelle hangs on for the ride as Herington gains traction rushing to the anticipated reward.

2. Morph The Cat (from Morph the Cat): Fagen’s third solo album sports world class guitar work from jazzer Wayne Krantz, but on the title track Herrington brings a no-nonsense sensibility and urgency which belies the funky bass of Freddie Washington and the laid back drum groove by Keith Carlock. By themselves the lyrics would raise an eyebrow, but Herington pushes the song into Steely Dan territory even though he’s never played a solo on a Steely Dan album.

1. Weather In My Head (from Sunken Condos): Musically detached and cool, “Weather in My Head” is still one of the finest tracks on Sunken Condos and among Fagen’s best. Part of the credit goes to Jon Herington’s economical yet insistent solo work. Bluesy in construction yet harmonically complex, Herington plays just enough to hint at what the listener thinks is there. Not one to waste notes, “Weather in My Head” demonstrates Jon Herington’s perfection and grace.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier